They are a metal institution in need of no introduction. For the
benefit of those who may be surfing through their first digital pages in
the corner of cyberspace earmarked for metal, though, it can be said
that Sepultura is one of the most important and innovative bands in the
history of heavy metal. Rising from their modest roots in Brazil, they
were born as a primitive, almost black metal flavored death-thrash
outfit. Sepultura's ambition and incredible talent has since seen the
cohesive unit successfully and seamlessly cross-pollinate death metal,
thrash metal, mainstream metal, hardcore, punk and even tribal
influences into a distinct metal powerhouse that is continuing to
destroy musical boundaries and open minds with its socially conscious
outlook. In this interview conducted for Pit Magazine, Derrick Green,
the band's hulking front man, discussed their latest effort 'Roorback'.
PIT: Y'all aren't playing shows already, are you?
DERRICK GREEN: No. Not yet. We're getting ready to go to Brazil, and
then we're going to do some shows in South Africa. Then back to Brazil
to do four shows with the Hellacopters and Deep Purple. It's pretty
PIT: That's a diverse lineup.
DG: Very diverse. (laughs) Only in Brazil something like that can
PIT: The fans there seem really open-minded. They don't mind diverse
DG: Definitely. That's one thing about Sepultura in general. It's
about being very open-minded.
PIT: I bet you were pretty nervous about having a deal secured abroad,
yet the US is one of the major markets and you had no record deal.
DG: Well, Europe has always been really good for us, and a lot of other
bands aren't really able to tour the world as much as we are and have a
really good following. So, for the US we weren't really that worried.
The one thing that we were concerned about was coming here with
something really new, and not just do the same tour that we've done
before. So, pretty much getting the right bands to go out with or go
out with us, and just keep things really fresh here - go for a different
angle in the US. Things are very different here now.
PIT: What made you choose to sign on with SPV in the US?
DG: Well, the thing is, we were going through a lot of labels, seeing
what they had to offer. And most of the labels wanted to pretty much
take the rights to our music forever! Most major labels do that when
you sign on. You see a lot of bands that are like, "Oh, we got a record
deal with Columbia," or something. But they end up signing their entire
catalogue, their whole rights over to the record label. And that's
something that we didn't want to do at all. And at this time in our
career, it just doesn't make any sense to do that. So with SPV we have
so much more freedom as far as owning our music, and being able to work
with the record label where things get done. There's not as much
politics involved as far as getting through to people and getting things
done. On a big label, you have to go through a lot of different people,
and they're always working with like a hundred different bands. So for
us, a smaller label, SPV, is great, because now we have this
communication with the label to have our ideas come across better than
PIT: Is that a part of the reason why you left Roadrunner?
DG: That was like the main reason why we left. They were looking so
much in the past, really not going forward with what we wanted to do.
Then we pretty much had a chance to get out. It was the last album on
that contract, so it ended. We were like, "Okay, see you guys later.
Have fun. We're going to do our thing." It's the best thing we could
PIT: Do you ever run into any of the guys that you've played in bands
DG: Yea. Yea. I'm still friends with everyone that I played in bands
with before. They're all working on different stuff, and it's cool.
We've had these friendships since we were like 14 years old. So it will
PIT: The limited edition of the new CD includes 'Revolusongs', the
recent EP of covers. Listening to the EP makes me think that you chose
songs that people wouldn't expect Sepultura to be covering.
DG: Yea. That was the main reason, but also because they're really
challenging. For us to do a metal cover is the easiest thing to do.
That's what we play: very heavy music. So for us it was more
interesting to do something with bands that really influenced us, that
revolutionized the way that we hear music. We didn't want to limit
ourselves to just straight up metal bands. We did a wide variety, and
it was cool to challenge ourselves to do something different, like U2 or
Massive Attack. I think they turned out pretty cool. I know that
playing them live has been a great response. People are not expecting
it at all, but once they hear it they're like, "Wow! It's totally
different." It was a lot of fun to do.
PIT: Was there any song in particular that you or the entire band found
to be incredibly difficult to pull off from the get go?
DG: No. That was the really cool thing about doing the EP. Everything
flowed really well. We did that and then we went right into writing
'Roorback'. We had a lot of time to get to be with each other, as far
as knowing each other and communicating a lot more, because I live in
Brazil. Everyone lives there. We had a lot of time off, and we had
done so many shows in the past together. So it's really coming
together. We're growing together and gelling together as a tighter
band. So it was easy to do the songs because we all love the bands that
we picked. It really wasn't that difficult.
PIT: How is life in Brazil treating you?
DG: It's pretty amazing. I'd have to say that the people there are
incredible. From the first day that I went there it's just been non
stop support. I mean, people are huge Sepultura fanatics there. They
really see the band as a whole. They never saw the band as one person
or anything like that. They always see it as a group, and they have a
lot of respect for it. And they're proud that Sepultura is able to
represent Brazil to the rest of the world. People come up - and not
just people who like heavy music - even relatives of kids who like the
music, they come up and say stuff that's really awesome. They even try
to speak English a lot of times. I've only had good things, good vibes
from being there. So for me, it's like my new home, really. I love
living there. It's a great place.
PIT: Concerning the Freddy Vs. Jason soundtrack, you worked with the
band's old friend, Mike Patton.
DG: What happens a lot of times is that a label, like Roadrunner, they
dig into a lot of the old songs. And that song was one that we did on
the 'Against' album - it was like a B-side. It was already a song that
we had. It wasn't written for the movie. They always pick crummy
movies to put your music on. (laughs) They have a knack for doing that.
PIT: What? You're not looking forward to it? I'm curious and eager
DG: In a funny way I could see the movie itself becoming big which would
be hilarious. I love movies, but I like good movies. (laughs) It's
weird because we started doing a soundtrack for a movie that's coming
out in Brazil - actually composing it - so it's a little more
interesting to do it that way, instead of having a song and then just
throwing it on the soundtrack.
PIT: Personally, I'm east Indian, and while the heavy music scene's
demographics are changing, I have encountered a bigot or two along the
way. So that makes me wonder, have you ever run into any problems
whatsoever in this music scene simply because you're black?
DG: Not at our shows, really, because a lot of people really know what
we're about with the type of music that we play and the songs that we
write about. So they're not really coming to the shows to be like,
"Holy shit! There's a black guy in the band!" But I'm sure that it
affects the band in some ways as far as people saying, "I'm not going to
go see them." Now that's fucked up, but I'm sure there are people like
that. I wouldn't doubt it. But that's going to happen in anything.
PIT: . . . in any walk of life.
DG: Yea. It's a matter of doing what you have to do regardless of what
people are going to say. I mean, that's the whole reason that I got
into hardcore music at the very beginning when I was 14. Because there
weren't any color boundaries in the lyrics or about being different. So
I really fit into that scene. And I definitely take that with me,
playing in these different venues and playing with Sepultura.
PIT: Speaking of your hardcore roots, what specific bands did you like?
And were there any metal bands that you liked when you were younger?
DG: Well that's funny because there were only a few metal bands that I
liked. There was Celtic Frost, Venom and Metallica. A lot of the
hardcore bands that I liked were like Minor Threat, Cromags, Sick Of It
All, Agnostic Front, Negative Approach, Youth Of Today. I didn't drink
beer until I was like 19 or so. I was pretty straight edge as a kid in
high school. I really liked the energy of those types of bands. And it
was incredible to go to all those shows, like Bad Brains and stuff like
that, and to be able to see them in their prime was amazing. And I got
to play with a lot of bands that I really idolized at the time, so it
was a great experience for me.
PIT: What do you think of today's heavy music scene, metal or hardcore?
What excites you?
DG:There's a lot of bands that are out there. You've just got to
really dig. There's a band called Mastodon that's really great that I
saw play in Belgium at a festival. There's a few bands that we saw on
tour: Hope Conspiracy, Every Time I Die. There are new hardcore bands
that are fucking great. Converge, man! (laughs) There's so many new
crazy bands. . . Isis. It's pretty exciting for me, because I've been
in Brazil for so long. And coming back I just started recognizing these
bands and thinking, "Thank God it's not dead!"
PIT: Do you like The Dillinger Escape Plan?
DG: I love them. I think they're great. Definitely.
PIT: In the past, if you look at every Sepultura album, every album is
different from each other, yet they do take a wink back at the previous
releases. With this album, did you sit down and almost write. . . is it
a goal to write an album that's different than the previous album?
DG: Actually I think it really happens naturally. It's definitely on
our minds that we don't want to do anything from the previous album. We
don't want to try to make the album that we've already made before that.
It just happens naturally. As musicians you get influenced by different
things around you, different music, and different things happen to you
from the time period of the previous album to now. As musicians we want
to get better at what we do and really push ourselves.
PIT: Now 'Nation' was obviously somewhat of a concept touching upon the
ideal aspects of what life can be. In today's world, how do you view
the world as falling short of that standard, and how is it addressed on
DG: Well, I think on this album there's definitely a lot more aggression
that's coming through. Whereas on 'Nation' I think the approach was
the complete opposite of having the idea that humanity can do something
for itself to make itself better. I truly believe that still, but I
think in the time period that we're in it's definitely pretty hectic and
scary for a lot of people. People are just in complete fear, and
there's good reason to be. This country has a lot of problems, a lot of
things going on. And the world itself - the politics are pretty intense
out there, especially now with the US government, where people are
blatantly doing whatever the hell they want and nobody really cares.
Nobody's really touching what's going on. They're just sort of letting
it happen. So these guys who are in power right now, the whole Bush
administration, are pretty much doing what they want to do. They're
just raping the entire country of tons of money. They're just looting
it. And they're being blatant about it. And that's what the scary
thing is. A lot of people are hooked up with American Idol, and they
want to watch reality TV. They're fixated on that, but they aren't
watching what's really going on. It's interesting because I definitely
have a different view from being on the outside and living on the
outside, seeing the news, and reading a lot of different books and
publications that weren't able to be published here just for the fact
that these major companies that run all the media and everything
wouldn't run them because they wouldn't make any money. There's a lot
of risk, and it's too much for them. So in my head, I'm really upset
with the way things are going here. But I really want to express that
and the anger in the music that we do, and really not try to persuade
people to pick sides, like Republican or Democrat, but just really
think about what's going on, and really try to understand what's
PIT: Do you think that the public is at fault for not being aware due to
its complacency, or is it more that the government is being too controlling?
DG: Actually, the government itself is almost a corporation of many
different corporations. These people that are in power have these
different corporations or are CEOs of different corporations. It all
just comes back to putting a lot of people in fear and trying to get
them to consume. So when you have everybody in fear, they're like
"We'll provide you with safety. We have code orange alert," and
bullshit like that. And people start to believe that. They're like,
"It's code orange. We have to duct tape the windows." And that shit
works. It gets people totally afraid. And if anyone speaks out, it's
just like, "Oh, they're a traitor!" It's the same thing that the Nazis
did. "This guy's a traitor because he's not patriotic, and he doesn't
believe in what we're talking about." It's totally ridiculous, but it's
true. And these commercials are nonstop running, trying to sell you
tons of shit constantly in between this media blitz of fear. It's
insane. Consume. Consume. Fear. Fear. And it's going to end up
exploding in people's faces after a while, because people don't have the
money to consume anything. People aren't working. They're out of jobs.
That's a big problem, and people are going to realize, "Wait a minute.
How come I'm out of a job?" These are real issues that are happening in
the US, not "Let's go to Iraq." It makes some other people rich in our
government. People are going to start to realize this when they're out
of a job, when they realize there's no retirement, or things like that -
things that really hit home. But now we see the fixation of American
Idol and all that bullshit TV that's on MTV and the rest of it. People
eat that up.
PIT: I couldn't agree with you more, my friend. How do you think
Sepultura has changed by having you in the band?
DG: I think vocally things have changed - definitely musically - because
of the fact that we have the ability to do a lot of different stuff now.
Before, it was very one dimensional as far as vocals go. They weren't
able to do songs like these covers, or songs with a melody in the vocals
or something like that. Now it opens up a whole new gate for us to work
and do something really creative where people don't get burned out from
the same screaming and yelling throughout a song. We can venture and do
different things and have that intensity of Sepultura. Creating
different moods in a song makes it a little more interesting. And for
me, it would also be cool for us to work on more soundtrack type stuff -
to actually score music for a movie. Possibly we could do that. I
think with me as the front man, we have that option of doing various
things that don't necessarily have to do with just screaming.
PIT: And Andreas has his classical background to draw from.
DG: Exactly! And that makes it all the more powerful. With that
background and also with Igor being able to play any type of music, it
really adds to our potential.
PIT: Did you play any guitar on this release?
DG: Yeah. That's one thing that I really got into. I was just picking
it up, writing riffs and showing them to Andreas to fix up here and
there. So now when we play, I play a lot of the new songs on guitar.
That's something different with the new live show. I don't want to play
the whole show. I like definitely changing it up.
PIT: Do you play any of the older songs?
DG: DG: Yeah. I play a few of the really old songs like "Troops Of Doom"
and stuff like "We Who Are (Not As Others)".
PIT: Going back to the war on terrorism, and keeping in mind the
perspective in Brazil, and wherever you've been doing shows or have just
been speaking with people internationally, how does the rest of the
world see the US right now in the way that they're dealing with the
events that stemmed from September 11th?
DG: I think they see it as definitely a country that is in fear. And,
actually, a lot of people are like, "Wow! They get what they deserve.
They're like the Pimps of Shirlong of the world," just being this
superpower and going in and fucking shit up in a lot of other countries.
And a lot of people are like, "Damn! They get what they deserve."
That's what I think a lot of people view on the outside. And they see
how ridiculous our government is. They also see it in a warped sense
that all the people really wanted George Bush to be in power, and that
we all agree with him. But the only thing they're seeing is what the
media is portraying from here. I can't believe that there are people,
some people, in America saying, "Yea! Let's get some oil. Let's bomb
whoever we have to!" They get the dumb people of America on TV. And
then people think, "Oh, that's all Americans. They all think the same
way." And that's a warped perception of what America is. It's not just
those people. And a lot of people on the outside feel that we're 100%
behind George Bush and what he's doing. That's not the case.
PIT: What does Sepultura mean to you?
DG: For me, it's almost like a way of life: to really do what you want
to do - to really live your life to the fullest and not hold back
anything. I definitely try to do that every day. Really, just keep
searching for new things constantly. Search for knowledge and just make
a better person of yourself in whatever you do.
review of Sepultura 'Roorback'
review of Sepultura 'Nation'
review of Sepultura 'Arise'
SEPULTURA FAN SITE
an abbreviated version of this interview appears in:
PIT MAGAZINE #45 - WINTER 2003
Interview: Jay Gorania [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
MU Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ email@example.com ]
Webmaster: Sean Jennings [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]